Skin Growths, Solar Keratoses&Atypical Moles
Did you know that skin growths including Solar keratoses and Moles (Nevi) can be very significant? As a Board-certified Dermatologist, I’ve seen many patients’ lives saved because they did get a lesion that ended up being a Skin Cancer or a Melanoma simply checked or evaluated by a Dermatologist.
So what are the really significant types of skin growths or moles? Let’s take a look at two types: Solar Keratoses and Atypical Moles.
The person in the photo above has a mole that's being evaluated by a Dermatologist.
Solar Keratoses, also called Actinic Keratoses, are significant because this type of skin growth is actually considered precancerous, meaning that they’re at risk of turning into a type of Skin Cancer called Squamous Cell Skin Cancer. Current statistics show that Squamous Cell Carcinoma kills about 8,000 to 9,000 Americans each year, so catching precancerous lesions that can turn into Squamous Cell Skin Cancer (and be treated with liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy) is really helpful.
The person in the photo below has what's called a Congenital Nevus, or inborn mole. But it should be kept under observation, because it's dark. Dermatologists usually check these types of lesions at least once or twice a year, looking for changes that may indicate the need for a test called a skin biopsy.
So what do Solar Keratoses look like? They tend to be flesh-colored raised rough lesions that favor the sun-exposed parts of the body, like the arms, legs, and face. Often they continue to get larger over time, eventually starting to break down or scab or ulcerate.
Medical options for treating Solar Keratoses often include use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), such as Glycolic Acid, which is in Chemical Peels and also in GlycoShea™ Creams, manufactured by Big River Silk Skincare, of which I am the President (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com) else use of a prescription cream called 5-Fluorouracil (Efudex Cream, or Fluoroplex Cream), use of a topical vitamin A cream called tretinoin cream (Retin® A Cream), and use of a prescription cream called Picato® (Ingenol mebutate).
Another type of significant skin growth is what’s called a Dyplastic Nevus or Atypical Mole. These moles can be present at birth or acquired, and they are often dark or pigmented lesions that have a raised center and a flat edge, somewhat like a fried egg. They can be a marker of people who are at higher risk of a type of Skin Cancer called Melanoma. Melanoma is a real public health problem in the United States, currently taking the lives of over 9,000 people a year, which is almost four times the number who lost their lives in the World Trade Center.
The person in the photo below has a type of Melanoma on his forehead. Typically this type of skin cancer has different shades of brown or black, and it shows a jagged rather than a smooth edge, and it would generally be evolving or changing over time.
For more tips of what significant moles look like, check out a segment on YouTube that was made by my office: “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis: Scarlet’s Story.” Scarlet was 26 and pregnant, and studying to be a teacher at Ole Miss when she found out – while pregnant – that she had metastatic Melanoma. It’s a moving story because Scarlet gave her life so that her baby – Madison – could live.
All races can develop Melanoma, even including African-Americans. In fact, the Reggae musician Bob Marley died of Melanoma that arose on one of his toes, when he was only in his mid thirties.
So if you or a family member have pigmented lesions, particularly moles (nevocellular nevi) which are dark, or larger than the eraser on a number 2 pencil, definitely consider getting a full evaluation by a Board-certified Dermatologist or Dermatologic Surgeon. My own Dermatology practice is with Rheumatology and Dermatology, at 8143 Walnut Grove Road in Cordova, TN, a suburb of Memphis near Germantown and Arlington, TN. (1-901-753-0168)
Remember: look at your family members' and loved ones' moles and growths, particularly when you're at the beach. Approximately half of all Melanomas first come under suspicion by the observation of a family member.
You can also find a Dermatologist close to you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology web site, and typing your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab. Don’t delay. Get checked today. It could potentially save the life of you – or a family member.
George Woodbury Jr. M.D.
Board-certified Dermatologist with Rheumatology and Dermatology
President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc.
8143 Walnut Grove Road
Cordova TN 38018